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Ford has paid tribute to Norway’s Petter Solberg after he announced today (Tuesday) that he will not compete in the FIA World Rally Championship in 2013.
 
Solberg and co-driver Chris Patterson drove for Ford World Rally Team in the WRC in 2012, achieving four podium finishes and 44 stage wins in their Fiesta RS World Rally Car on their way to fifth in the championship.
 
Solberg first drove for Ford at the beginning of his WRC career in 1999 and 2000, before returning to the team in 2012.
 
Ford Racing senior manager Gerard Quinn said the sport would be poorer for the 2003 world champion’s departure: “Petter has been a charismatic and popular member of the service park for over a decade, and we are sure that motorsport has not seen the last of him.  All of us at Ford wish him every future success,” he said.
 
“It will be strange to begin a WRC season with no Petter Solberg in the service park, and I will miss him on a personal as well as a professional level,” added M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson.  “When we first signed him back in 1999, he was a fresh-faced youngster with a lot of potential and equally a lot to learn, and when he returned to Ford more than a decade later as a world champion, it was like he had come home.
 
“It was a pleasure to have Petter in the team this year and we are delighted to have shared in some of his many successes in rallying.  We wish him well for the future,” he concluded.

On his official newsletter, Solberg said: "I am so grateful and happy for what I have experienced during my 15 years in the WRC.

"For now it's really quite sad, you know, I would have loved to have driven for a few more years, but I do realise there will not be a WRC programme for me next year. I have said I am willing to drive for free, but at this point, I will not pay to drive.

"This is not to say that you will never again see me in a WRC car, but for now, I think it's best."

Despite his decision to step away from the WRC, Solberg remains confident in his abilities to win rallies at the highest level.

"I know I am good enough to fight in the top for many years still," he said, "but I fully understand the difficult financial situation for the 2013 season for M-Sport, so I wish the team all the best in the future."

Solberg has started 188 WRC rounds, winning 13. His last win came on the 2005 Rally GB, in the middle of his career at Subaru, the team with which he won the 2003 world title.

"The sport has given me so much," said Solberg, "but I want to give a special thank you to all of my fans that have supported me through thick and thin, and given me such a great feeling about what I do, and for being a large reason of why I do it.

"I do hope you all understand, and I hope you'll continue to follow me on to my next venture. I promise to bring you something worthy of this."


 

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